Five students join summer math program

SMRE 2022 Photo 1
SMRE 2022 Photo 1
Five students have been welcomed to the 2022 Summer Research Experience, a six-week research program from May 13 to July 26, 2022 that will have students study mathematical models of coral reef responses to climate change.

Five students have been welcomed to the 2022 Summer Math Research Experience, a six-week research program from May 13 to July 26, 2022 that will have students study mathematical models of coral reef responses to climate change.

During the program, students will gain experience with industry-standard software, network with participants in other summer research programs, and develop skills in oral presentations and technical reports.

“I’m looking forward to this experience because this will be my first time being in a research program,” said Ernie Samelo, an undergraduate in mathematics. “I want to experience everything and apply what I’ve learned in math to this research.”

In addition, the program welcomed two research assistants who will assist the GECCO students along with those who are participating in other concurrent summer math programs such as the National Research Experience for Undergraduates Program.

“I look forward to learning from everyone and I hope everyone can learn from me,” said Cabrini Aguon, an undergraduate in mathematics. “It’ll be a mutual exchange of growth throughout this process.” Over the course of the program, the students will use data collected from the Common Garden Project, a four-year EPSCoR-funded study launched last year that will examine three habitat-forming coral species over a multi-year span and their responses to environmental change.

“Math is the language of nature. You can describe the processes of nature using mathematical models,” said UOG Associate Professor Bastian Bentlage. “If you have a good model, you can identify certain key parameters that are important for corals’ response to stress, and you can make informed decisions about reef management planning and intervention strategies.”

University of Guam Marine Laboratory celebrates 50 years  

UOGML 50th Photo 1

The University of Guam Marine Laboratory celebrated 50 years of science and service to the Pacific region on May 7th, 2022.  

Since its establishment in 1970 as one of the world’s first research facilities dedicated to the study of coral reefs, researchers at the laboratory have discovered numerous new species and contributed to the recovery of coral reefs. 

During the event, UOGML Director Laurie Raymundo, commemorated the release of a book featuring photos and writing from faculty, students, and colleagues to celebrate the commitment of those who have played a part in the laboratory’s history and its research within the region. 

In his speech, UOG President Thomas Krise commended Guam NSF EPSCoR for its contributions to the facility’s research capacity. 

“We anticipate that EPSCoR is spreading the achievement of research and the development of students, which is really important,” said Krise. 

Terry Donaldson, the principal investigator of Guam NSF EPSCoR, says that the grant has helped contribute greatly to the future of the research being done at the marine laboratory.  

“We’ve got a young generation of students who have great promise,” said Donaldson. “We have a lot of people who did their degrees on Guam who have come back and lots of people who used to be on the faculty and to be able to have these people and this celebration is fantastic.  The future is bright.”  

The event connected researchers, students, alumni, and colleagues who played a part in shaping the history of the facility. 
 
“It’s pretty amazing to celebrate the lab’s anniversary,” said Kelly Ebeling-Whited, a Guam NSF EPSCoR Biorepository technician. “I get to see the people whose names I’ve seen on the really old specimens we have. I’m seeing stuff from 1963 and meeting the people who collected them.”  

The UOG Marine Laboratory continues to contribute important marine research regionally and globally. Ongoing research at the laboratory includes coral genetic connectivity across the Pacific, coral diseases, reef adaptations to climate change, and more. 

G3 Makerspace workshops inspire community to live sustainably

G3 Workshops Photo 2

From making pouches out of repurposed plastic to bamboo bracelets and earrings, the Guam Green Growth Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub has been encouraging the island’s community to live a more sustainable lifestyle by taking advantage of the resources around them. 

The G3 Makerspace and Innovation Hub started holding workshops at their location in Hagåtña’s CHamoru Village in March and has offered courses that involve fusing plastic bags together to make pouches, dyeing fabric with natural pigments found on the island, and processing locally harvested bamboo into vases, bangles, and earrings. 

The workshops engage the community in the circular economy, which eliminates waste by promoting the continual use of products. In addition, the workshops also encourage its participants to think of ways to address invasive species such as bamboo and turn them into resources they can use.  

Bamboo is an invasive species on Guam because it clogs riverways and causes erosion when bunches of it are ripped from the ground during a storm.  

“Right now, we’ve been teaching them how to make jewelry pieces, but we want to expand and teach our community how to utilize bamboo as a source of lumber,” said Joey Certeza, the G3 Circular Economy Makerspace Assistant. “We want to learn how to work with our land and how to utilize the resources it offers us.”  

In May, the makerspace will offer workshops that will use malt bags donated from local breweries to make bucket hats and tote bags.  

Additional upcoming workshops include printmaking courses in which participants can use marine debris to print on a fabric that can be made into pouches and leather workshops.  

“The reception from our participants has been really good,” said Abby Crain, the Guam Green Growth Education Coordinator. “We’ve had couples who do it for a date night, families that come and bring their teenagers with them, and there is this one lady who has done almost every workshop and she’s been a repeat client.”  

Certeza says that he enjoys facilitating the workshops because it gives him an opportunity to make connections within the community.  

“The kind of experience I’ve been striving to provide while working with Guam Green growth is for the community to realize that engaging in a sustainable lifestyle is easier than you think,” said Certeza. “I want our community to realize the capacity of what they can do with their hands and their minds with the resources the island provides for us.”  

Workshops at the G3 Circular Economy and Innovation Hub are $20 and above and are held on Thursdays and Saturdays.  

For more information about upcoming workshops, please visit the facility’s events page. 

The Guam Green Growth Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub is funded in part by Guam NSF EPSCoR. 

Mónica Feliú-Mójer speaks with Guam Science and Technology Steering Committee  

DSC02887
DSC02887

During a meeting on April 4th, 2022, members of the Guam Science and Technology Steering Committee met with Mónica Feliú-Mójer. Feliú-Mójer is the director of communication for Ciencia Puerto Rico, a nonprofit organization that advocates for science in Puerto Rico and supports Puerto Rican researchers to empower communities to improve their lives and society. 

Feliú-Mójer also works with Science Communication Lab, a nonprofit that uses multimedia storytelling to communicate science to the public, as its director of diversity and communication training.  

“I like to push back on this idea that our communities are not scientifically literate. They know science. There’s a lot of community and ancestral scientific knowledge,” said Feliú-Mójer. “I think it is important that we have a conversation about scientific literacy and how people can use it to benefit their life.”  

The steering committee consulted with Feliú-Mójer learn about how to put science in service of communities.  

As part of her work with Ciencia Puerto Rico, Feliú-Mójer facilitates Aquí Nos Cuidamos (“Here We Take Care of Each Other”), a community-centered multimedia toolkit that provides culturally relevant resources to marginalized communities in Puerto Rico on how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has produced resources such as guidelines, checklists, and infographics; audio broadcasts to remote areas; and videos with sign language.  

“I think one of the things that’s really important to me when it comes to engaging different communities with science is that fundamentally, science is about solving problems,” said Feliú-Mójer. “Everybody has problems. Science equips us with tools to solve problems regarding such determining whether something is true on social media or making a decision about our finances or healthcare.”  

Feliú-Mójer said that communicating science in a culturally relevant way makes science more accessible for audiences.  

“Culturally relevant science allows people to see themselves in science. It makes science more welcoming. A lot of people see science as a subject they need to take in school and not much more and part of what I want to do is change that. I want people to see science as a tool that can serve them no matter who they are,” said Feliú-Mójer. 

 2022 Student Research Experience: Meet our Student Participants!!  

Zaine Benavente 2022 SRE
Jackie Cabusi 2022 SRE
Jacquelyn Cabusi

This year, Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomed 10 undergraduate students from the University of Guam to its Student Research Experience. From coastal oceanography to red algae ecology and diadromous genomics, the internship offers mentorship and research training to increase the diversity of students who choose STEM careers and teach them skills such as DNA extraction and sequencing, experimental design, and more. In this article, we will introduce five out of the 10 students who have joined the program.  

Jacquelyn Cabusi, a pre-pharmacy and bio-medical track double major, joined the program to gain experience conducting research. Under the mentorship of Atsushi Fujimura, a UOG professor of oceanography, Cabusi will focus on analyzing concentrations of toxic chemicals in Guam’s marine environments during and after the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and how they impact coral health. One of the chemicals that will be included in the study is oxybenzone, which can be found in products like sunscreen and certain cosmetics and can negatively affect coral health.  

“What I really enjoy about EPSCoR is that it’s allowing me to explore options and paths that I could possibly take,” said Cabusi. “Throughout my time here in EPSCoR, the primary thing I would like to learn is the reason why I applied – which is to learn more about the processes that surround conducting a research study. I’m excited to construct my own experimental design and carry it out, as well.”  

Anela Duenas 2022 SRE
Anela Duenas

This is not the first time that Anela Duenas, a biology major, has participated in a STEM research program. Her time as a 2021 NSF INCLUDES: SEAS Islands Alliance research fellow led her to become interested in the Guam NSF EPSCoR Student Research Experience as an opportunity to further enhance her research knowledge and build relationships with her mentor and peers.  

Under the mentorship of Tom Schils, a UOG professor of marine biology, she is working on the experimental design of her research project, which will focus on studying crustose calcifying red algae (CCRA). CCRA is a group of marine algae that deposit limestone like stony corals.  

After earning an undergraduate degree, Duenas plans to pursue higher education to eventually return to the Marianas and continue answering questions about the region’s marine ecosystems.  

“After graduate school, I plan to come back to the Marianas – more specifically Saipan because that’s where I’m from – and I want to conduct some research and hopefully help open the first marine lab there,” said Duenas. 

 

Hunter Sidell 2022 SRE
Hunter Sidell

Hunter Sidell got to know his mentor, Daniel Lindstrom, when he volunteered to help the UOG professor of biology collect specimens in 2021. Sidell has always been interested in the field of biology and finds his background as a philosophy major to be helpful when it comes to conducting research as it encourages him to be curious to find answers about the world around him.  

Under Lindstrom’s mentorship, Sidell’s research will involve learning more about the island’s native diadromous shrimp species. Diadromous animals are those that transition between freshwater and saltwater environments at different stages of their life cycles. Animals that are diadromous on Guam include certain species of fish, shrimp, and snails. 

“Dr. Lindstrom’s amazing. I knew that he would be a great mentor when he bought me pizza,” Sidell said. “I’d always ask a lot of questions and he never got impatient. In fact, it seemed like he was always happy to answer my questions and it created this sort of dialogue where he wanted to answer all of my questions and I wanted to keep on asking them so I could learn more. There’s nothing more I could ask for. I hope I can continue working with him.”  

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Antoni Badowski 2022 SRE scaled
Antoni Badowski

Antoni Badowski, a biology major, joined the SRE program to gain research experience and apply what he’s learned in his classes to conducting research. 

Badowski, who has always been fascinated with the natural world, says that being mentored by Daniel Lindstrom has been a great experience. Under the mentorship of Lindstrom, Badowski is excited to learn more about the diadromous animals that are native to Guam.  

“I am most excited to meet and work with other people who are passionate about the natural world,” Badowski said. “I’m also excited to explore and find out my areas of interest and career fields to get know more of what I can do in the future and what I can accomplish.” 

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Zaine Benavente 2022 SRE scaled
Zaine Benavente

Zaine Benavente, a biomedical track major, saw the SRE program as a way to gain experience and become more familiar with the lab procedures he would conduct in his classes.  

“I just finished my genetics class and I was thinking that I could get more experience here because we had been doing a lot of extractions and procedures in the lab and I wondered if it would be similar,” said Benavente. “And it is quite similar! Now, I’m applying what I’ve learned in the classroom to my internship.”  

During the program, Benavente has been performing DNA extractions of coral samples as part of his work with David Combosch, a UOG professor of population genetics. Combosch’s research explores evolutionary questions in island settings using genetic and genomic approaches to inform coral reef conservation, management, and restoration.  

“As one of my career goals, I always told myself that I wanted to be a medical lab technician,” said Benavente. “But now that I’m in a STEM program, I get to explore and pick the brain of my advisor about what it’s like to be a researcher.”  

Study explores effects of nutrient pollution on Guam reefs

Kansas EPSCoR Photo 4

Warming waters, diseases, and sedimentation are some stressors that threaten the health of coral reefs. To help preserve these important ecosystems, a researcher from Kansas State University visited the University of Guam and studied a stressor that has not been well-explored — the effects of nutrient pollution on corals found in Guam waters.  

Nutrient pollution is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorous in the air and water and can damage the environment, cause health problems, and take a heavy toll on the economy.  

Molly Fisher, a graduate student from Kansas State University, arrived on Guam on March 14 as part of the first academic cross-collaboration between Kansas NSF EPSCoR and Guam NSF EPSCoR.  

She came along with her advisor, Walter Dodds, a distinguished professor from KSU. Dodds’ research areas of specialization focus on water quality and nutrient cycling. He departed Guam on March 18.  

Dodds and Fisher collected small samples of staghorn coral (Acropora pulchra), one of Guam’s dominant reef-builders, from West Agana and the Luminao Reef in Santa Rita.  

The sites were chosen due to their different levels of human activity. Substances such as fertilizer, stormwater runoff, and sewage treatment plant discharge can cause nutrient pollution.  

“Luminao is our pristine site while West Agana has roads and a sewage treatment plant that may contribute to increased levels of nitrogen in the water,” said Dodds. “We add nitrogen and phosphorous to get our plants to grow. If you add too much fertilizer, the system gets too productive for its own good. In the case of corals, that means that algae can grow over the surface of the coral and cause them to stress and die.”  

Fisher said that the coral samples were exposed to varying levels of ammonium and will monitor how the corals respond over time. Ammonium is one form of nitrogen that can be present in marine ecosystems.  

“Anthropogenic nutrient loading is a stressor to corals that isn’t heavily studied,” said Fisher. “Our work is pretty novel, and we hope that we can figure out how they respond to nutrient loading in an attempt to hopefully lessen the impacts on corals.”   

Dodds said that the faculty and staff at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory have been integral to the execution of the project.  

“We’re grateful for the faculty here at the University of Guam. They’ve been extraordinarily helpful and have gone out of their way to make us feel welcomed and find the materials that we need to do this work,” said Dodds. “Everyone has been super helpful and told us that if we need anything at all, that we can talk to them. It’s been an incredibly pleasant experience so far.” 

Fisher concluded the experiment and departed Guam on April 10.  

Alum participates in artist residency program  

Artist Residency Photo 4

Using an eye for detail, Constance Sartor, a University of Guam Master of Science in Biology and a research assistant with the university’s Guam NSF EPSCoR program, is encouraging others to appreciate the world around them through art inspired by the environment.  

 

 

In November 2021, Sartor participated in one of the U.S. National Parks System’s Artist-in-Residence programs.  

 

The National Park System holds more than 50 residency programs across the nation and encourages visual, musical, and literary artists to create pieces in varied natural and cultural settings.  
 
Sartor participated in a similar program in June 2021 onboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel as part of the organization’s Artist-at-Sea program. 
 
During the artist-in-residence program, Sartor spent a month in a cabin acquainting herself with the mountains and forests of the Great Smoky National Park in Tennessee. There, she saw the turkeys, black bears, and salamanders that called the park their home. Using an assortment of magazines, she created upcycled collages of animals and important sites found at the park. 

 

“I made four different collages – one was a rare morph of a wild turkey that I saw in the park. Another was an elk, which they had re-introduced into the park as a part of a rehabilitation project,” Sartor said. “I also did a historic cabin and also a waterfall that was really important to the park.”  

 

During her time in the program, she also held workshops at the park’s visitor’s center and taught visitors how to make different collages of the animals they saw.  

 

Sartor said that creating art encourages her to feel more connected to the organisms she encounters.  

 

“I definitely do feel more of a connection to my subjects when I make a piece because I have to think about the organism a little more than I would,” Sartor said. “I see little details in the animals or plants I wouldn’t have noticed. I also try to learn more about them and how they play a role in the environment and everything, so it’s a good way to research different aspects of the environment.”  

 

She said she enjoyed her time at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and found it interesting to work with the park’s staff to learn more about its environment.  “I really enjoyed the experience because I’m kind of torn between art and science and figuring out a way to blend the two,” Sartor said. “I feel like I’m learning that art is a really good way to communicate science and to get people really interested in science. That’s definitely something I learned through this and something I will continue to pursue in the future.”  

 
Sartor has been accepted to another National Parks System Artist-in-Residence program and will attend it this summer.  

Students will gain hands-on experience and mentorship through STEM internship  

EPSCoR SRE Photo 1
EPSCoR SRE Photo 1
Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomes 10 undergraduate students to its 2022 Student Research Experience! These students will gain valuable research experience and mentorship this year by conducting fieldwork, learning laboratory skills, and preparing a research paper and a presentation of their findings.

Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomes 10 undergraduate students from the University of Guam to its 2022 Student Research Experience. Through the internship program, the students will gain valuable research experience and mentorship this year by conducting fieldwork, learning laboratory skills, and preparing a research paper and a presentation of their findings to exhibit at various STEM conferences.  

The program is designed to increase the number and diversity of students, particularly from Pacific Islands, who choose STEM careers by giving them the skills and confidence needed for academic and career development.  

The students were briefed about the internship during a virtual orientation on Friday, Feb. 4.  

“I am very happy to welcome our new SRE students,” said Terry Donaldson, the principal investigator of Guam NSF EPSCoR. “This program is really a game-changer. This will either help you become a research scientist later in your career or just teach you how to better adapt to the situations that arise in whatever you do.” 

As part of the internship, the students will participate in near-peer mentorship programs that will allow them to interact with high school, undergraduate, and graduate students who are a part of Guam NSF EPSCoR and with the NSF INCLUDES: SEAS Islands Alliance program. 

“This experience for me was so amazing. Not only did it change me as a student, but it changed me as a person,” said Ariana Orallo, a 2021 SRE intern and an undergraduate biomedical pre-pharmacy student at UOG. “Prior to this, I had no knowledge about anything that I was going into. I was working with corals, so it was really intimidating at first. But as you keep going, it keeps getting easier and the knowledge sticks with you.” 

For more information about the Guam NSF EPSCoR Student Research Experience, visit https://guamepscor.uog.edu/sre/. 

Guam Green Growth Makerspace and Innovation Hub now open at CHamoru Village  

Makerspace Photo 3

Entrepreneurs and creators can now transform waste material into marketable products through the Guam Green Growth Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub.  

Guam Green Growth and its partners celebrated the grand opening of its G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub on Tuesday, Feb. 15, in three houses at the CHamoru Village in Hagatña.  

Designed to support Guam’s emerging green economy, the spaces will allow entrepreneurs to upcycle discarded materials into marketable products using a variety of tools and resources. These spaces also support the island’s effort to rely less on imported goods and create less waste. 

“What we are doing is moving forward with our vision of helping people become successful in business. Small businesses are the backbone of our community and government,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. “This concept is a win-win for our business, academia, our island’s environment, and all of Guam.” 

Equipped with 3D printers, a laser cutter, computer numerical control router, vinyl cutter, and power tools, the industrial makerspace can process materials such as wood, metal, and plastic.  

“This is an effort to diversify the economy and to do things to benefit multiple parts of our community,” said University of Guam President Thomas Krise. “We have this opportunity to think of a new kind of economy and a new way of dealing with visitors and to be attractive to visitors. I think this is a really great opportunity.”  

The second makerspace house has equipment from Precious Plastic, a plastic recycling project that uses machines to grind, melt, and mold recycled plastic into new products such as furniture, jewelry, and more.  

“What this G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub will be is a beacon to tell everybody on our island that we do not have scarcity – in fact, we have lots of resources. The problem is that we’ve been calling it waste this whole time,” said Austin Shelton, director of the UOG Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant. “The circular economy is about changing this linear economy where all of our products come in from our ports and waste products end up at the landfill. We can bend that line into a loop, regenerate natural systems, and design out waste and pollution to keep our materials in use. We can then create new green economic activity and this is where we can do it together.”   

Once entrepreneurs create products in the makerspace, they can sell them on consignment at the G3 Green Store to test the market.  

The innovation hub supports part of the G3 initiative’s mission to establish sustainable and profitable cottage industries and support regional economic development. Business advisement seminars, creative workshops, and training sessions for the makerspace’s equipment will be held at the facility.  

Creators can access the space and tools available for $50 a month or $500 per year, with a 20% discount applicable for yearly memberships.  

The facility’s hours will be Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  

The G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub was made possible by funding from Guam NSF EPSCoR, the Guam Economic Development Authority, Office of the Governor of Guam, 36th Guam Legislature, and partnerships with the UOG Center for Island Sustainability, UOG Sea Grant, the School of Business and Public Administration, and Guam Unique Merchandise and Arts. 

For more information about the G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub, please contact G3 Circular Economy Coordinator Myracle Mugol at mugolm@triton.uog.edu 

Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomes new Education and Workforce Development Program Associate

Profile Story Emily Wendte
Profile Story Emily Wendte
Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomes Emily Wendte as its new Education and Workforce Development Program Associate. As part of the education and workforce development division, Wendte will assist with the preparation and completion of grant reports to the National Science Foundation, keep track of project progress, and coordinate activities between students, faculty, and project partners.

Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomes Emily Wendte as its new Education and Workforce Development Program Associate. As part of the education and workforce development division, Wendte will assist with the preparation and completion of grant reports to the National Science Foundation, keep track of project progress, and coordinate activities between students, faculty, and project partners.  

Wendte grew up in Indiana where she earned her bachelor’s degree in sculpture and a minor in art history at the Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University. She later received her master’s degree in sculpture from Arizona State University. She moved to Guam in April 2021.  

Prior to joining Guam NSF EPSCoR, Wendte taught sculpture classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Through her art, Wendte contemplates land use and the relationship people have with their environment.  

It was her interest in sustainability, the environment, and education that led her to want to join Guam NSF EPSCoR.   

“Pandemics have a funny way of making you realize what’s really important in life and I really loved being here, so I just decided that I was going to stop teaching and focus on working with my ideas within art and try to move my career into more of a sustainability-focused field,” said Wendte. 

Education has always been dear to Wendte and she looks forward to engaging with students and helping them achieve their academic goals.  

“Even though I’ve been here for a short time, everyone and how they interact with each other has been just wonderful,” said Wendte. “I’m most excited to work with the students and see their research come into fruition. I hope to contribute to and add to their growth.”  

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